Jerod Mayo has struggled to stay on the field during the past few seasons, and often seems to be an afterthought behind Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower. However, Mayo should not be overlooked, especially with a defense that has lost a massive amount of talent in a short amount of time.
For years Mayo was the center piece of the front seven, and led the team in tackles almost every year. As Mayo has aged, though, he has been plagued by injuries in both the upper and lower body.
Unfortunately for Mayo, the Patriots were victorious without him last year, and subsequently a lot of people seemed to forget about him. Mayo, however, is not a player who should ever be forgotten.
Even in his later years Mayo can be an extremely valuable commodity for the Patriots defense to have. He is a solid tackler, who can be a wall in the middle of the field. With the loss of both Revis and Browner, this team is in desperate need of a great front seven in order to make up for the lost talent in the secondary.
We have watched Jerod for years, as he has shut running backs down in their tracks, and wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks. In a year with a weak secondary the Patriots are going to need players who can disrupt the line of scrimmage and force quarterbacks to make bad throws. This is exactly what Mayo can do, in a more limited role of course.
The return of Mayo can also be vital for this success, as he adds much needed depth at the linebacker position, and invaluable experience that can only be gained by logging countless hours of NFL game time.
Mayo will be sharing most of his time with young guns Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower, and his leadership could help exponentially in the growth of both players. As good as the two have appeared to be, there is always room to grow, and that’s where Mayo comes in.
While being sidelined last year, Mayo was able to help coach the young linebackers, but he was only able to do so from afar. This season, assuming that Mayo is able to stay healthy, he will be able to help coach while also playing.
It may not seem like a big deal, but this type of interaction between veterans and young players can’t be overstated. We have seen similar situations across the league such as Terrell Suggs and CJ Mosley in Baltimore.
Mayo can be more than just a teacher though. He still has some football left to be played and in a Matt Patricia coached defense, he should have no problem reemerging with the team and finding a new found role in which to work.
Mayo’s return is important due to the fact that Dont’a Hightower is not yet at 100% after his offseason surgery. Hightower has always reminded me of a young Jerod Mayo, and so if you can’t have Hightower on the field, the next best thing is to have the actual Mayo out there.
The styles of the two players are very similar, so if Hightower does in fact miss games Mayo should have a relatively easy time fitting into Hightower’s shoes and playing in the two linebacker set with Jamie Collins.
The big take away from this is that Jerod Mayo still has a valuable role on this team. With missing the majority of the last two seasons, fans have grown accustomed to a Mayo-less defense, but as I stated before, he cannot be overlooked. He is too good of a player to just simply discard, or cast out, and he still has a lot left in the tank.
Mayo has always been a true Patriot and his contributions to this team should not be forgotten. Although he may not have played much last year, you can bet that his help from the sidelines resulted in the growth of the linebackers, and with a healthy Mayo, it will be fun to see how he Collins, and Hightower grow as a unit in 2015.
By Jake Cianci